The Bush administration will ask Congress for $100 million to fund a program to encourage joint conservation efforts between private and public landowners. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who is announcing the program today in Pennsylvania, called the “Cooperative Conservation Initiative” an effort to “empower a new generation of citizen-conservationists.” Under the initiative, the government will dole out money for conservation projects when there are matching in-kind or financial contributions; the exact details of the budget will be revealed next week. Some environmentalists are skeptical: The executive director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, said the program sounded like it was “being funded at the expense of the basic legal obligations of the Department of the Interior.”